As a single man, this is probably a subject about which I could write and entire book, having spent nearly ten years cruising around the world both single-handed and with various cruising partners. To protect the innocent, I will refrain from much of the specifics, and rather focus on the positives and negatives of being a single sea gypsy.
I would say that the majority of the people out there cruising are couples, usually married, and generally together for a number of years before they head offshore for the big cruise. For most, it is a culmination of a lifelong dream, and the lifestyle is, in most cases, an enhancement to an already good relationship.
This is how it was meant to be with me. I bought the Moonshadow with plans to go cruising with my then live-in girlfriend of five years. Well, when it came time to toss off the lines and head south, her $ucce$$ful career and biological clock both ganged up on her and vetoed the idea and left me with a choice: abandon the dream or abandon the relationship. It took me a few years to get over abandoning the relationship, but I am still pleased I didn’t abandon the dream! I’m pleased to report that now she’s a happily married mom.
I was very fortunate to find an adventurous young lady who was keen to go on a six-month sailing adventure to Mexico. Eventually her career ambitions and biological clock got the best of her and she headed back to “reality” and is now a happily married mother of two.
So, I think you can begin to see the pattern here. A young lady’s head and heart can easily get caught up in the adventure of far away and exotic places, the excitement of ocean passage making, the romance of the moonlight reflecting on a calm lagoon, palm trees and white sand beaches. But occasionally, the evening quiets down, and the ever-increasing ticking of the biological clock drowns out the crickets call and soft music on the stereo. “Say George, aren’t you ever going to grow up, settle down and have a family?” “Yes I suppose so, but not just yet.” “OK then, seeya!”
Now in addition the aforementioned issues, there are also the realities of living on board and cruising. While “Moonshadow” is quite a comfortable and well-equipped yacht, it is not the QE II or one of Larry Ellison’s mega yachts. When the people back home think of “cruising,” some have in mind a uniformed crew to wait on you, serve you gourmet meals with silver service, keep the yacht in immaculate condition and stand watch all night while you get a good night’s sleep. The reality is that it is not exactly like that.
For some women, life without Starbucks, the gym, the spa, trendy cafes and the shopping mall just wouldn’t be worth living. And not every new age woman is used to life at sea on a boat. If you’ve ever had a hankering to experience the cruising lifestyle, here are a few simple exercises that will give you a taste for the experience:
Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Even better, try tilting it on a 20 degree angle
Wake up every three hours and then spend three hours looking out the front window for something moving.
Move into an apartment the size of your bathroom.
When you shower, shut off the water when you soap up.
Bring your power mower into the living room and leave it running all night.
Have your partner give you your haircuts.
Plan to eat all your meals at home for a month, and make just one trip to the grocery store to get what you need. Oh, and you must walk or use a taxi.
Wet down the car seats each time before you go for drive.
Fortunately, there are a few nice women out there whose spirit of adventure outweighs their need for all the mod-cons and comforts of life.
On the other hand, being a single guy cruising does present its fair share of opportunities. While I am certainly no Johnny Depp, the whole swashbuckling, sea faring, rugged individualist thing can be, at least for a short while, captivating to some women. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to share company with a plethora of lovely ladies from all parts of the world who happened to be living in or visiting our many ports of call. I can’t take credit for all this though. It also helps to have a well trained cat on board who knows how to work a marina and invite people back to the yacht for a bit of socializing.
On the odd occasion, a relationship may blossom, but in most cases the reality of logistics prevents any relationship from going long enough for the usual issues (tick-tick) to intervene. And on the even more odd occasion, a full on relationship has developed. It has been during these times, when romance is blended with cruising, that have been some of the most enjoyable months or years of my cruising life. There is just nothing quite like being out in some of the most gorgeous spots in the world, with all the freedom and incredible experiences that cruising offers, and sharing all those memorable moments with that someone special.
Having a home base in a sailing-oriented country like New Zealand, which also happens to be close to so many South Pacific cruising grounds, has been quite fortuitous. In the “off season,” I spend lots of time yacht racing, and involved in other activities that are more along “normal” lines that allow for some excellent social contact and the opportunity to develop more normal relationships.
So, while I won’t be spending this Valentine’s Day with “someone special,” I am eternally optimistic that someone will come into my life who wants to share the dream.